Maṇimēkhalai

Book VII
[Maṇimēkhalai is Spirited Away]

The goddess returned to Puhār, and appeared before Prince Udayakumāra spending a sleepless night in bed, revolving constantly in his mind that with the dawn he would still secure possession of Maṇimēkhalai. Presenting herself to him in a vision, the goddess addressed him in the following words:

‘Oh, Son of the great king! If the king change from righteousness ever so little, planets themselves will move out of their orbits; if planets change their course, rainfall will diminish; with shortage of rainfall, all life on earth will cease; the king will often cease to be regarded as king, because he would seem not to regard all life as his own; therefore cast away the evil thoughts that you set upon Maṇimēkhalai, who has assumed the life of a celibate.’

Passing from there to the garden, and waking up Sutamatī who was fast asleep, she told her that she was goddess Maṇimēkhalā, that she came there to see the great festival of Indra; that she, [130] Sutamatī, had no cause to fear, as the opportune time had come for Maṇimēkhalai to follow the path of the Buddha, and gave her the information that for this reason, she had carried Maṇimēkhalai away from Puhār and left her in Maṇipallavam, wherefrom she would return on the seventh day to Puhār, having learnt in the meanwhile all that took place in her own and Sutamatī’s previous existence on earth.

The Goddess added that although she would appear in a disguise, which would baffle identification of her by anybody in the city, her identity would be to her manifest; on the day that she returns to Puhār, there would be many strange appearances in the city.

Having said this, she asked Sutamatī to inform Mādhavī of the appearance of the goddess and of what took place in respect of her daughter, pointing out to her that she was on the way to enter the right path. The goddess then told Sutamatī that Mādhavī had already knowledge of who the goddess was.

‘When Kōvalaṉ told Mādhavī to name their daughter after the patron deity of the family, I appeared before Mādhavī in a dream and told her: “You have become the mother of a child who, devoting herself to a life of penance, would destroy the influence of the God of Passion so completely that he would forever remain helpless not knowing what to do.” She asked Sutamatī to remind Mādhavī of this, which she told her in a dream though in a manner of one talking to her in physical presence.’

Sutamatī woken up and in distress because of her separation from Maṇimēkhalai, was in great fear of remaining where she was, as she could hear the noise of various fearsome transactions at dead of night in the burning-ghat of the city. She therefore went across the postern in the enclosing wall, and entered the adjoining Cakravāḷakoṭṭam.

Entering the great Dharmaśāla [131] there, she retired to a corner in the building, where to her great fear, a statue, on a pillar in front of her, began to address her in the following terms:–

‘Oh, the rare daughter of Ravivarmā, the wife of Durjaya, of immense cavalry, you that met your death by an elephant when you had lost control of yourself, so as to bring about in consequence the death of Tārai your elder sister! You the daughter of the Brahman Kauśika of Champa inhabited by Kārāḷar! You that came into the city in the company of Mārutavēgan and joined the company of your elder sister Tārai! You that were known as Vīrai in your previous birth, and are known as Sutamatī in this life, listen. Your younger sister Lakṣmī, understanding all that happened in her previous life and yours, will return to this city seven days from today. Therefore have no fear that she has been taken away from you.’

In these words the statue spoke to her in the voice of a God.

Sutamatī, her fears increased on hearing this, managed to spend the night somehow, and, starting at break of day, went through the streets of the city to the house of Mādhavī and recounted to her all that took place the previous day. On hearing of what had taken place and of the disappearance of Maṇimēkhalai, Mādhavī was stricken with sorrow like a cobra which had lost its crest jewel, while Sutamatī, in her company, remained incapable of action like a being whose life had gone out of her, because of the separation of Maṇimēkhalai from her.